Gain a better understanding of science by joining a science club and taking part in competitions. This will give you the opportunity to become familiar with preparing biological samples for slides and using microscopes to study them. Another way to explore is through research museums. Ask your science teacher for help with finding museums nearby that have slide collections that students can view.
Join a professional association for access to education, publications, and networking opportunities. Find information by visiting the Web sites of organizations such as the Association of Genetic Technologists (http://www.agt-info.org) and the American Society for Cytotechnology (http://www.asct.com).
An internship, part-time job, or volunteering at hospitals or independent laboratories also provides valuable experience in health care environments. Ask your school's career services office for help in locating these opportunities. You can also search the Web sites of hospitals and laboratories for job listings and volunteer openings.
Cytogenetic technologists prepare biological specimens on slides and use microscopes to study them for genetic disorders and diseases. They study specimens such as bodily fluids, blood, bone marrow, and amniotic fluids. One slide may have as many as 100,000 or more cells, so cytogenetic technologists must be focused and accurate in their work. They examine chromosomes, looking for cell patterns that are abnormal or cells that have certain colors, shapes, or sizes that could indicate a genetic disease or disorder, such as issues with fertility, blood disorders, and congenital birth defects.
The daily work activities of cytogenetic technologists include preparing the biological specimens for laboratory examination and then examining the specimens by using equipment such as light microscopes and photomicroscopes. They use computer imaging systems to create the images of chromosomes for examination. They also use database user interface and query software and spreadsheet software programs to conduct research and write reports.
Some laboratories may employ medical technicians, known as cytotechnicians, who prepare the slides for examination. Cytogenetic technologists work independently and also consult frequently with other laboratory workers, supervisors, pathologists, and physicians regarding their studies and findings. Many work in hospital laboratories, public or private medical laboratories, and in research facilities.